Savoury Semolina Cake & Anjum Anand

Anjum Anand is, in my opinion, the Nigella of British-Indian cuisine. And I have been following her closely for quite a few years now. Her recipes are simple and light, yet completely authentic Indian in taste. And who says we have to spend hours in the kitchen to eat exotic?

One of my favorite recipes of Anjum’s is her Savoury Semolina Cake. With lots of vegetables and mildly spiced, it perfectly complements a cup of tea, or as a starter for any dinner party. Vegetarians or non-vegetarians alike will absolutely lick their fingers :)

A blend of semolina (suji), vegetables and yogurt, it can easily pass as a vegan meatloaf of sorts.

Now, both M and I love to sit down in the evening with a cuppa tea and something nice and light. We chomp on the savoury tit-bits, and watch the world go by, the neighborhood kids run around, the ladies giggle and the dogs scamper. People bond over music, people bond over drinks – we bond over the shared evening cuppa. And that is where this recipe comes into the picture. Not much prep to do, leaves enough time for togetherness…

Without much further ado, here is the recipe.

Savoury Semolina Cake: (adapted from here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (around 160 grams) semolina/suji
  • 3/4 cup chopped beans
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/2 cupful grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 heaped teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 green chilly chopped
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup thick yogurt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate or 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • Salt -to taste

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius. Oil the bottom and sides of a loaf tin.
  2. Mix together semolina,vegetables, ginger, spices and salt.
  3. Add yogurt and water and mix to make a thick batter. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep aside.
  4. Separately, heat oil in a small pan and throw in mustard seeds. When they splutter,add the cumin seeds. Leave it on the heat for 10 seconds then stir this oil into the batter.
  5. Now stir in the soda bicarbonate and mix well.
  6. Working quickly now, pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top of the cake batter.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin for sometime before serving. Enjoy!

Strawberry Cake – For My Valentine

I fell in love with strawberries anew!

Who can say they have never been seduced by the red freshness and plump juiciness?

Look at that!

Absolute poetry.

Absolute love.

Absolute lust.

And I rediscovered this aphrodisiac over the weekend when I saw a recipe on foodgawker.com. And it struck me – What a perfect way to pamper my M, especially with the one-year-long-distance-heartache that is about to follow in a few months. I have decided it will be weekend-after-weekend of culinary pleasure for my better half in the coming weeks.

The recipe I am going to post now is phase-1. :) I adapted the ingredients and steps from ShootsAndRoots.

Pre-Valentine’s Day Strawberry Cake (Tried and Tested!):

Ingredients:

It cannot get simpler than this. One of the easiest and quickest cakes I have ever baked. Trust me!

  • 1/4 cup canola or plain vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plain flour (maida) – not self rising, just all-purpose.
  • 1 and 1/2 full teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 250 grams strawberries, cut into quarters

Procedure:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  • Mix the egg, milk, vinegar and oil in a big bowl.
  • Add the sugar and vanilla essence. Mix well.
  • Add the flour and baking powder, and mix well with a whisk till smooth.
  • Pour the batter into a round baking dish, which has been buttered or oiled a bit on the sides and bottom to prevent the cake from sticking. I ended up using a pie-pan. It looked cuter in it :)
  • Now mix one tablespoon sugar with the quartered strawberries. Arrange the strawberries on the top of the batter, pushing each piece of strawberry in a bit into the batter.
  • Bake it in the oven at 180 degrees for 60 minutes or till the cake is done and a fork inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

The consistency is just right – light and crumbly and moist-jammy when you hit a strawberry. Beautiful and easy to make. I am going to bake it when I have guests coming over next for sure.

Serve!

And fall in love all over again..

Knead Pizza Now!

What happens when you want a big, juicy slice of pizza, fresh out of the oven, warm and inviting? Before you answer that, imagine that you are on a D_I_E_T. Just imagine.

:(

That is usually how I look when I want to bite into one and can’t. Especially with M checking on me every now and then. He is a very involved partner, yes he is.

But what happened the other day was quite interesting. My mum was a-visiting, which usually means lots of food and pampering and travelling and visiting families and friends and shopping and.. phew! You get the idea. But when mum comes down, she hates it when we order take-away. She just wont take it. No way. How can you eat that junk? Why not make it at home? Why spend for something will turn out yummier if made at home? With love? And dedication? And fresh ingredients?

I gave up. I had to take matter into my own hands now. And decided that, for a change, even with mommy in town, I will cook. I will break into her holy sanctum and make a mess and cook up a storm.

And that brings us back to - What happens when you want a big, juicy slice of pizza, fresh out of the oven, warm and inviting? AND mum is home?

You make one from scratch of course.

No-Yeast Pizza With Fresh Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Mushroom, Bell-Pepper, Basil and Onion:

Ingredients

  • For Pizza Dough:
  1. 1-1/4 cup flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1/2 cup water
  • For Tomato Sauce
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 garlic clove
  3. 1 packet (about 250-300 ml) of tomato puree
  4. 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  • For Pizza Toppings
  1. Mozzarella cheese
  2. 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  3. 1 large onion, sliced into rings
  4. 2-3 large button mushrooms, sliced
  5. Fresh basil or dried basil leaves

Procedure

  • For dough
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add the water and oil.
  3. Stir together. If dough is stiff, add more water.
  4. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • For tomato sauce
  1. When dough is resting, in a saucepan, gently heat the olive oil.
  2. Mince the garlic clove and fry in the oil for a minute.
  3. Pour in the tomato puree. Instead of this, one can also use 2-3 large tomatoes chopped up. Fry this on medium heat for sometime, about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and bubble for about 10 more minutes. Cool.
  • Assemble pizza
  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 160 degrees centigrade.
  2. Meanwhile, roll the rested dough into round shapes of desired size. I usually like to make one medium sized pizza of thin crust out of this dough.
  3. Place the rolled out dough on a lightly oiled baking tray (so that it doesn’t stick). Pour the fresh tomato sauce on the dough and evenly spread it around.
  4. Arrange the toppings over the sauce. Break of chunks of the mozzarella cheese and place evenly among the other toppings.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes till the dough is cooked.

Mum was impressed. I impressed mommy. It was a GRAND day.

Bell-peppers Are Versatile. Yes They Are.

I have always been a fan of bell peppers. Capsicum. Whatever.

Anyways, I have always been a great fan of bell-peppers. Red, yellow, green.. sometimes orange.. they make any dish bright, zingy and add tremendous flavor. Fry them, steam them, saute them, grill them, stuff them – versatility, thy last name is bell-pepper. Or wait, is it bell-pepper, thy last name is..?

Umm never mind.

The point I am trying to make is that are just simply awesome. My mum used to stuff them with paneer (cottage cheese) for a healthy vegan kick, or grill them with chicken for the days when we kids needed something non-veg.

However, I am going to post a recipe – a two-in-one recipe – which is my sister’s contribution. Its a warm salad, with tri-colored bell-peppers and onions, and for protein either shredded leftover grilled/boiled chicken or crumbled fresh paneer. You could also used feta cheese. It goes great anything.

Here it is now, my warm bell-pepper salad with chicken/paneer.

Warm Tri-Pepper Salad With Chicken Or Paneer (serves 2 to 3 people):

Ingredients

  • 1 green bell-pepper, sliced into long thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell-pepper, sliced into long thin strips
  • 1 red bell-pepper, sliced into long thin strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 full tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander or parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper-powder (both black or white pepper can be used)
  • For non-vegetarian version,  2 about 300 grams of grilled or boiled shredded chicken. You could buy boneless chicken breasts, cut them into small bite size chunks, and saute them in 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 tablespoons of pepper and salt to taste.
  • For vegetarian version, 200-300 grams of paneer (cottage cheese), cut into chunks and slightly browned in a frying pan in 1 teaspoon of oil, pepper and salt, or alternately, just fresh home-made cottage cheese crumbled into bits.
  • About 2 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Procedure

  • In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon pepper powder and a pinch of salt. Add the onions and saute till translucent.
  • Now add the three types of sliced bell-peppers/capsicum. Mix well and cover with a lid – let it heat up and cook till the bell-pepper slices soften.
  • Remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, add the cooked bell-peppers and chicken or paneer, whichever you are using.
  • Add salt and lots of black or white pepper powder. Mix well.
  • Now sprinkle coriander/parsley and grated cheddar cheese on top.
  • Serve warm.

The capsicum/bell-peppers along with the pepper powder is also a great salad in itself. But of course, a bit of chicken and cheese never hurts. :)

So there you go, two recipes in one post. Enjoy!

Quick Fix Dinner: Creamy Crunchy Egg Salad

Its a drag to cook on certain days. Yes, even for a foodie like me. Socializing, office, phone calls, more socializing – tends to sap out all energy from a person. And yet, come dinnertime, who wants to compromise?

Not me, no siree. I want something yummy every single day. And a recent spat of requests to post salad-recipes inspired me tonight.

Now when I talk of a salad, the first thing that comes to my mind is – of course – EGGS! Boiled, scrambled, poached, fried: whatever be the way, eggs never fail me. My comfort food, my soul food. And a creamy egg salad is on the top of my list of all-time favorites.

However, what I am posting now is a healthy(ier) version of a creamy egg salad. Crunchy and creamy at the same time, all you need is a slice of toast to complete your meal.

Creamy Crunchy Egg Salad:

Ingredients (serves 2)

  1. 4 small boiled eggs – I like hard boiled,  but even soft boiled is perfect.
  2. 1 large boiled potato, chopped into small cubes
  3. 1 medium cucumber, diced into small cubes
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  5. Couple of teaspoons of chopped coriander
  6. Juice of half a lime
  7. 1 green chilly chopped finely for heat (optional)
  8. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or mustard oil, whichever you like
  9. Pepper and salt, to taste

Procedure

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dump the chopped potato, onion and cucumber. Mix it up.
  2. Crumble the boiled eggs on top of this mixture.
  3. Add the juice of lime, the green chilly, the olive oil/mustard oil and salt and pepper. Mix well. The egg makes this mixture very creamy so you need not add any mayonnaise or other creamy dressings.
  4. Divide the salad into individual serving bowls, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of chopped coriander on top, and serve!

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

There’s A Zebra In My Cake!

Ok.

Don’t panic.

There’s not exactly a huge 4-legged wild animal from Africa IN my cake. Its just that my cake has absolutely impressive zebra stripes in it.

For the uninitiated, I am going to quote what is written by Connie Veneracion which will pretty much explain what this cake is all about:

“A zebra cake is basically a chocolate marble cake. The difference is in the pattern. Instead of the marbling created by running a knife through randomly dropped blobs of vanilla and chocolate cake batter, the zebra pattern is created by pouring small cupfuls of vanilla and chocolate cake batter one on top of the other. The last cupful of batter poured pushes the one below it causing it to spread.”

And it looks S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G.

Be it a safari themed birthday party or just a wow-cake for the weekend brunch, a zebra cake can create that right amount of impact. And it is so versatile! You can tweak the flavors to anything you like or want or keep it totally simple and orthodox.

I made a banana-peanut butter-chocolate zebra cake sprinkled with choco-chips this time. The taste – Umm mmm. And this is how it looked:

Banana-Peanut Butter-Chocolate-Choco Chips Zebra Cake:

Ingredients

  1. 4 large eggs
  2. 1 cup fine sugar
  3. 1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
  4. 1 cup vegetable oil
  5. 1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 2 cups all purpose flour
  7. 1 tablespoons baking powder
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. Chocolate chips (optional)

Additional ingredients for chocolate batter:

  1. 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  2. 1 teaspoon chocolate flavor/essence (optional)

Additional ingredients for banana-peanut butter batter:

  1. 1 ripe banana
  2. 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used smooth, but chunky is fine too)

Procedure

  • Preheat oven to 180 degree centigrade.
  • Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a round cake pan with vegetable oil.
  • In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sugar until mixture is light and creamy and the sugar has mostly been dissolved. Stir in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract.
  • In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  • Divide the batter into two portions.
  • In the first portion:  mix in the sifted cocoa powder and chocolate extract.
  • In the second portion: mix in mashed ripe banana and peanut  butter and whisk well.
  • Now in the prepared cake tin, put a ladle of peanut butter-banana batter into the center of the pan and let it spread slightly on its own. Now put a ladle of chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla. It will push out the other batter and, as it sits for a moment, will also spread itself. Alternating ladle-fulls of the two batters, repeat the technique until all the batter has been used up.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is light gold and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then take the cake out and cool a bit before slicing.

This is how it looked fresh out of the oven:

I digged in right into it!

Note:

  • This post here from My Cake School is a good tutorial on how to create a zebra cake. Helps!
  • The banana-peanut butter part of the cake turned out to be a little dense for me even though the taste was absolutely spot on – maybe next time I need some more baking powder for that half of the batter? Not sure. If you find a solution, let me know.
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